Jake Porter was one of the select group of independent record company owners who gave us the best of West Coast R&B and doo-wop music. Starting in the early 50s and persevering until the early 70s, Jake recorded numerous groups, duos and R&B outfits for his Los Angeles-based Combo label.
In COMBO VOCAL GROUPS Vol.1, we take a first look at his doo-wop output. This first volume features collectors' classics ranging from early sides such as the Squires Oh Darling and Let's Give Love A Try, through to later output such as Carl Ell & His Buddies with Sunshine. From the mid-50s period there are a number of sides from one of Jake's favourite groups, the Native Boys. Their recording of I've Got A Feeling makes an interesting contrast with the same song as rendered (with overlapping personnel) by the Ebbtones on the Ebb Story Vol. 1 (CDCHD 524). Also featured is one of Combo's biggest hits, the classic Watts by Brother Woodman and the Chanters with Gene Ford on lead. It celebrates the good life in the black section of LA, many years before the district's name hit the headlines as a result of worse times.
As well as his released sides, Jake Porter's tapes have revealed a wealth of hitherto unissued material. So, following the successful format for previous compilations such as the Dootone Doo-Wop series (Volumes 1-3 CDCHD 579, 588, 676), the Combo group volumes will also feature a mixture of released and unreleased recordings. On Volume 1 listen, for example, to Jesse Belvin singing One Little Blessing with a group before he recorded the song for Specialty, and to Bill Mason and his group on It All Comes Back To You to see the treats in store for future volumes. All tracks with the exception of Let's Give Love A Try and Oh Darling, both by the Squires come direct from the original master tapes (note: the CD packaging for volume one omits this information, but it will be corrected as soon as possible).
Thanks are due to several collectors and researchers who have helped make this volume a reality, but there's still room for more help! If anyone has memorabilia, particularly photographs of groups that have appeared on the Combo label, please contact Peter Gibbon at Ace Records.
by Peter Gibbon